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About Gabriel Vicéns
Internationally acclaimed guitarist, composer, bandleader, and educator Gabriel Vicéns has been hailed as "a thoughtful improviser with a quiet tone who makes every note count" by Downbeat Magazine and as "an exceptional artist, with a shimmering sense of sonority and the ability to find a keen balance between poetry and intensity" by Latin Jazz Network. Originally from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, Vicéns relocated to New York City after more than a decade of performing and recording with top groups from the Puerto Rican jazz scene and a four-year professorship at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico.
Vicéns has been featured at venues and festivals such as Heineken Jazz Fest in Puerto Rico, SF Jazz Center in San Francisco, Ljubljana Jazz Festival in Slovenia, Uno Jazz San Remo Festival in Italy, and Havana World Music Festival in Cuba. He has worked with artists such as Miguel Zenón, Alex Sipiagin, John Benitez, Paoli Mejias, Luis Perdomo, David Sánchez, Will Vinson, among others. In New York, he has frequently performed at prominent venues such as The Cell Theater, Cornelia Street Cafe, Birdland Jazz Club, Teatro LATEA, Fat Cat, The Owl Music Parlor, and Terraza 7, both as a leader of his groups and as a sideman.
His debut album "Point In Time," independently released in 2012, features tenor saxophonist David Sánchez and legendary bassist Eddie Gómez who praises Vicéns as "a creative musician that displays a new vision on the guitar." The release gained rave reviews in many jazz publications around the globe. World-renowned jazz critic and writer Bill Milkowski noted in JazzTimes magazine, “Guitarist-composer Gabriel Vicéns, a leading light of Puerto Rico’s jazz scene, flaunts a modernist sensibility on his impressive debut as a leader."
In 2015, Vicéns released his second studio album "Days," on Greg Osby’s influential record label Inner Circle Music. The record was co-produced by trumpet giant Alex Sipiagin, featuring Sipiagin himself, David Sánchez, and percussionist Paoli Mejias. The recording also garnered acclaimed reviews including 4 stars in Downbeat magazine and 4.5 stars in All About Jazz by music critic Mark F. Turner who mentioned, "A rising jazz guitarist... Vicéns has provided a splendid recording that conveys a clear representation of his culture and individuality."
Gabriel Vicéns’ most recent album, "The Way We Are Created,'' released in 2021 on Inner Circle Music, was co-produced by the great Puerto Rican saxophonist Miguel Zenón and explores a unique amalgamation of modern jazz with folkloric music from Puerto Rico. The record features some of today's most accomplished musicians in the New York City jazz scene: Roman Filiú on alto saxophone, Glenn Zaleski on piano, Rick Rosato on bass, E.J. Strickland on drums, and Victor Pablo on percussion. Music critic Roger Farbey from the British magazine Jazz Journal noted, "Complex melodies and intricate rhythms inspired by the Puerto Rican music and dance styles bomba and plena showcase his heritage to dazzling effect."
In addition to Vicéns’ releases as a leader, he is co-leader of the free jazz/experimental ensemble, No Base Trio. Formed in collaboration with alto saxophonist Jonathan Suazo and drummer Leonardo Osuna in 2010 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, NBT has released two albums under the Italian record label Setola di Maiale. Their debut eponymous album was released in 2020 and their second studio album, NBT II, in 2022. Both records received praised reviews in prominent publications such as The Free Jazz Collective, Avant Music News, and Percorsi Musicali. Music critic Paul Acquaro observed, "It will pleasantly surprise you with its mix of melody and exploration."
In 2022, Vicéns went to the studio to record an album of original chamber works including pieces for piano trio, wind quintet, and Pierrot ensemble. The record will feature some of the finest performers in the New York City contemporary classical scene and it’s expected to be released in late 2023/early 2024. This will be his debut album as a composer of concert music.
Gabriel Vicéns’ music is influenced by many musical genres, including jazz, rock, avant-garde, experimental, minimalism, ambient, modern classical, Puerto Rican folklore, and more. In addition, his improvisational style is also greatly influenced by the guajeo element of Changüí music from Guantánamo, Cuba. One of his musical trademarks as an improviser is the use of highly syncopated ostinato patterns which he creatively weaves through his playing to create his own unique lines using jazz melodic and harmonic sensibilities.
Gabriel Vicéns received a B.M. in Jazz and Caribbean Music Studies and Performance from the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico where he studied with Fernando Mattina and graduated Summa Cum Laude as the first guitarist in the program. In 2017, he earned his M.M. in Jazz Studies and Performance from Queens College studying with Paul Bollenback. In 2022 he received a D.M.A. in Jazz Studies and Performance from Stony Brook University under the direction of Ray Anderson. A great part of his focus during both his master and doctoral studies was on the exploration of amalgamating modern jazz with Bomba, Plena, and Changüí. In addition, during his doctorate, Vicéns studied composition and worked closely with Daria Semegen. He has also studied privately with composers Carlos Cabrer and Lois V Vierk.
Apart from his career as a musician, Vicéns is also a proficient painter. He studied at the Art Students League of New York with renowned Color Field painter Pat Lipsky. In 2018, he was invited to be part of the group exhibition Dislexia Geografica at The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center, featuring prominent Latin American artists. He actively works in the realm of painting alongside his music career. Vicéns sees both his musical and painting conceptual processes as alike and influencing upon one another.